26 Law deans oppose proposal to accredit online law schools

Deans from 26 law schools have asked the American Bar Association to pull back on a proposal to extend its seal of approval to fully online law schools, saying more employment and bar pass data for graduates of online and hybrid programs is needed before making the change.
In a public comment, opens new tab on the proposal, deans including those from the University of California, Berkeley School of Law; the University of Houston Law Center; and Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law wrote that the arm of the ABA that oversees law schools hasn’t made clear why it should modify its longstanding policy of accrediting only law schools with a brick-and-mortar location. The public comment period opened Jan. 23 and ended March 25.
The ABA’s Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar in November began the process of modifying its accreditation standards to allow for fully online law schools, with proponents saying that change would expand access to a law degree and reduce the cost of becoming a lawyer.
The ABA has accredited a handful of fully online juris doctor programs, but only those offered by accredited law schools that also have brick-and-mortar campuses. The proposed change would allow graduates of fully online law schools that are ABA-accredited to sit for the bar exam in any state. The council could make a decision when it next meets in May.